I was once a victim of grains myself. Some of my favorite foods were Crafts macaroni and cheese, fresh Italian bread and instant Ramen noodles. It didn’t help that I grew up in a middle eastern household either. We ate pita bread more often than we drank water.
At the time, I didn’t realize that grains such as; wheat, rye, and barley, (and usually oats due to cross contamination) contain a commonly problematic protein called gluten.
Gluten is made up of storage proteins called prolamins. While some other grains technically don’t contain gluten, they have their own simlar prolamins as well, which can be problematic for many people.
Most prolamins are formed from repetitive amino acid sequences that contain high amounts of glutamine and proline. Examples of prolamins are gliadin found in wheat and avenin found in oats. Gluten and these prolamins can cross the intestinal barrier and also cause an inflammation response. The tests for gluten sensitivity actually look at antigliadin antibodies in the blood. The prolamins and gluten entering the blood stream can also lead to auto-immune disease in susceptible people.
The protein zonulin is in control of regulating our intestinal permeability. Eating foods high in prolamins and gluten will increase the amount of zonulin in our intestines. This creates extra spaces for undigested proteins to pass through. Our bodies will treat these undigested proteins as dangerous and launch an immune response. The antibodies that are created can then attack other systems in our bodies. This can lead to disease as well as inflammation in areas such as the athlete’s joints. Training for endurance sports already causes inflammation and the diet needs to counteract that.
Another problem with eating grains is the increased amounts of phytic acid. Phytates are substances that bond to the metals; iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium in our bodies. This does not allow for the minerals to be absorbed and used properly. One study conducted by Davidsson in 1994 showed that decreased amounts of phytic acid in baby formula increased the bioavailability of iron and zinc (Davidsson, 1994).
Iron is especially important in endurance athletes because it supplies the protein hemoglobin in red blood cells which are responsible for carrying oxygen to the working tissues. According to the USDA, endurance athletes are more prone to iron deficiency. Why should diet contribute to that deficiency?
You don’t have have celiac disease of have a gluten allergy to suffer the effects of gluten intolerance. In fact as much as 80% of the population is considered gluten intolerant. Most people are also misdiagnosed and told they don’t have it. Conventional gluten tests check for a reaction to alpha gliadin or transglutaminase-2. Gluten, however has a ton of shitty compounds that can be problematic. The worst part is that NOT ALL signs of gluten intolerance is GI related.
What would you do if you were reacting to other components of gluten such as deamidated gliadin, glutenin, gluteomorphin, and either transglutaminase-3 or -6, but not reacting to alpha gliadin or transglutaminase-2—which are the antibodies used to screen for Celiac Disease by most doctors? You will remain undiagnosed, and may continue to eat gluten for the rest of your life, putting yourself at serious risk for autoimmune and other diseases.
This “what if” situation happens to so many people already. I’ll leave you off with a picture of a lab report on gluten from Chris Kresser’s more detailed article about gluten intolerance. Kresser uses the more detailed, Array 3 gluten test from Cyrax labratories to test his patients.
Notice how this patient tests negative for alpha gliadin or transglutaminase-2 on the chart below. Since most doctors ONLY use those two compounds as markers of gluten issues, this patient would have been told gluten isn’t the problem and to go home. Look at how many other components of gluten they are reacting to however?!?!?